tv Washington Week PBS June 11, 2011 2:00am-2:30am PDT
>> weiner, gingrich, romney -- who had the toughest political week? plus, will we ever leave afghanistan? tonight on "washington week." gwen: could the week have gotten any crazier? one candidate's campaign advisers quit en masse. >> we had a strategic disagreement about how to run a campaign. gwen: another decides to skip the summer's biggest political test, and a high-profile member of congress reveals too much online and confesses too late. >> i've exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. >> this really just violates his relationship with his constituents and i call for his resignation. gwen: meanwhile, things are deadly serious in afghanistan. >> we're not out to clearly
create a shiny city on a hill. that is not going to happen. but there needs to be progress. gwen: will u.s. troops ever be able to leave? covering the week -- john dickerson of "slate magazine" and cbs news, karen tumulty of "the washington post," and james kitfield of "national journal." >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live, from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill, produced in association with national journal. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875, we've been from for our clients through good times and bad. when their needs changed, we were there to meet them. through the years, from insurance to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we've developed new ideas for the
financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still, and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. corporate funding is also provided by boeing, additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. the most overused word in the last 24 hours? implosion. former house speaker newt gingrich, who is running for president in perhaps the most unorthodox way possible, was cut loose by his own senior staff this week. yet he vows to soldier on. >> the american people have to make a very big decision in 2012.
do they want really dramatic deep change? change in both parties, change that leads us back to a balanced budget, change that takes power out of washington and sends it back home, change that creates jobs? change that creates an american energy industry? or do they want politics as usual. that's why i'm running. gwen: it is interesting to hear newt gingrich running on change. is he running to win the presidency or to be heard? >> the only option that may be left to him is to run to be heard because his chances of winning are significantly diminished. he got dramatic change this week when a dozen of his advisers bolted, gone. when you talk to politicians, they say the most important thing you need is to have an absolute driving desire to win and what that bolting of advisers, the message of that was, they said, he just doesn't have that desire. what they were saying is you need to run a campaign that requires going to these early
battleground states and working hard and they said he wasn't up for that and one of his key advisers in iowa, when they found out that newt gingrich went on this holiday, on this vacation to greece at this key moment. gwen: a two-week luxury cruise. >> while all the other candidates are raising money, shaking hands, doing the brutal things, the reason you need fire in the belly is because it's brutal. when the key adviser in iowa heard he was going on vacation, that was it and he left. when gingrich came back from vacation, he had this meeting with top advisers and they said, if we're going forward, you need to run a more traditional campaign. he wasn't up for it. gwen: if he believes a traditional campaign is not the way for him, does he have a plan, a way to do it that's not been done? >> we'll see if he's got a plan. he says he does and it's to be more accessible, to use social networking, use his films and books and ability to draw a
crowd around those things but we've heard this before and when you talk to strategists in these key states, they talk about fred thompson who thought he could use fame to come in and not do the hard business of running and the painful, boring business of being a politician, repeating the same speech over and over again. >> rudy giuliani was popular and famous and his campaign plummeted because when you don't do the hard work, it doesn't work out and talking to a strategist who signed on with gingrich said, i don't want to work 60 hours and beg my friends for money and turn out to rallies when the guy running isn't committed. >> we all search back in our memories searching for something, i have not come up with anything so far. but mccain fired his staff and initially got the nomination. is there a precedent for this? >> mccain had a similar problem to the one that newt gingrich had which is that he ran out of money. in mccain's case, was raising
the money and burning through it. in gingrich's case, he's not raising the money but he's burn through it. even bob dole had a cycle through the staff. >> ronald reagan. >> so you could almost argue that you don't win unless you throw people overboard but when they leave on a bus, your entire staff leaves on a bus, that's a problem, and in the key states, as well. i was dialing around to try to find people still in the campaign, and they would say, i'm leaving, too. and also newt gingrich has severe hurdles. john mccain had a strong base in new hampshire, he had a fire in his gut. gingrich's problem is his negatives are very high. in a cbs poll this week, his negatives are almost as high among republicans as sarah palin and he's undisciplined and has already had a fight with his own republican party. >> he's not the only person to make an unconventional campaign
move this week. the presumed front-runner, mitt romney, announced that he was not going to participate in the iowa straw poll this august. >> that's exactly right, and for those who don't know, and haven't lived through the iowa straw poll as we have, for the republican party in iowa, this is like saying i'm not coming home for thanksgiving dinner to your own family. this is an affront to them because in iowa, no matter who you're for, you're for the caucus process and the greater glory of it and the straw poll is something everyone is supposed to compete in. romney has a balancing act in iowa. in the last campaign, he put a lot of effort into the state, worked very hard in the straw poll and came in second and that was a big problem because it undercut his campaign. now he has to work hard enough to do well in the caucuses but not so hard that he sets expectations too high so that it damages him for other states where he's to the a chance to did much better so he's trying to work out that balance. the problem is, in 2007, he
said, the straw poll in iowa is crucial, it is a sign of all that is great and good about candidates. now he's saying the opposite so, of course, his ponents are saying, this is another instance in which he changes views based on the political moment. gwen: if you're mitt romney who is leading the pack to the extent anyone is leading anything at this point and you, presumably not playing in iowa has a greater impact than newt gingrich who was not leading the pack, to put it mildly, but by both of them choosing these onorthodox paths, do they leave an opening for anybody else? >> they do, and the question in iowa is what is the electorate like. in politics, people fight the last campaign so there is a lot of talk that iowa is like it was 2008, social conservatives who care about gay marriage and abortion. the question for romney is whether, it's the same there, those evangelical voters are not his natural constituency or
whether it's changed and a lot of iowans have said it has changed but your question is, has it created an opening? it creates an opening for tim pawlenty, but if he doesn't do well in the straw poll, everybody will say, wait a minute, you're not a contender for romney, you couldn't even do it in the straw poll when you didn't have the big dog to fight. >> and it creates an opening for rick perry, governor of texas. >> that's right. rick perry is in the news because he's flirting with running although you get mixed signals from his campaign. there is a feeling in the republican party that there aren't enough candidates running. rick perry also has some of his top political advisers were working for newt gingrich, now they're gone, so they're available now to work for rick perry. one thing, in iowa this week, where i was reporting, you would hear people bring up rick perry's name. they don't bring up sarah palin's name. they were saying, i'll think about him.
gwen: this thing doesn't begin to settle down. i have to say, it's not only the republicans who were struggling this week for balance. gingrich and romney managed to step on the other big story consuming washington and late-night comedy all week. the plight of new york democratic congressman anthony weiner done in by explicit photos he had no business sharing with strangers on line. >> once i realized that i had posted to twitter, i panicked and i took it down and said that i had been hacked. i then continued with that story, to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake. this woman was unwittingly dragged into this and bears absolutely no responsibility. gwen: neither does his wife, who is pregnant. and neither do democrats, who apparently would be happier if he quit. but he doesn't appear to be going anywhere, does he karen? >> he says he is not quitting. and anthony, and the democrats, a number of them have called for his resignation. nancy pelosi, after he got up
and declared that he did not believe he violate good house rules, within minutes, she had put out a news release saying she was going to see if the ethics committee agreed with that. harry reid, the senate majority leader was asked, you know, what would you do if anthony weiner came to you for advice? and he said, i'd tell him go somewhere else. but it's really striking because, you know, it sort of proved that there are really no new sins in washington. there are just new means of committing them. and the sort of speed with which this scandal moved, i think, is also something that is new. he was out there for 10 days with this sort of cover story that, oh, this was somebody had hacked his twitter account and sent out this suggestive photo. it turns out that there are photos much worse than that out there now on twitter. but ultimately, the truth catches up with you, because we are living in a world where the
evidence is out there somewhere on the internet. gwen: who's anthony weiner? prior to this, i bet you a whole lot of people who have been telling weiner jokes in the last two weeks had never heard of him except for the occasional over-the-top rant on the house floor. >> he is a new york city area seven-term congressman who probably a lot of people -- he's not known for chairing any committees or any major pieces of legislation that have his name on them. to the degree he had any national profile at all, it was for the fact that he was such an aggressive partisan. he was out there a lot on msnbc doing partisan battle. he married a top staffer to hillary clinton who, in fact, bill clinton officiated at their wedding. so, he was really known more for being known than he was known for any sort of accomplishments. he is also somebody we are finding this week never had much
of -- unlike a charlie rangel, chairman of the ways and means committee, when he got into trouble, he had a deep resivorof history with his colleagues, of accomplishments, of affection, and anthony weiner does not seem to have that. >> what can happen now, the damage for democrats is that this continues on and this is a constant joke and they become associated as a party with anthony weiner even though they're shunning him. but what happens in politics, when you shun someone and they refuse to be shunned, they don't go away? >> it will be very interesting to see on monday when -- one thing that was sort of -- what little bit of luck anthony weiner had this week was the fact that the house was out on recess. on monday, everybody gets back. so he is going to return to another barrage of criticism and a very, very unfriendly welcome in his own caucus. there's a lot of debate this
week about, oh, well, this scandal is worse than that scandal and what about the republicans and what about the hypocrisy. but the really damaging contrast, i think, is with a quite recent episode where a republican congressman from new york, chris lee, was caught sending out one shirtless photo that we know of to somebody on craig's list. he was gone within hours of that news. gwen: don't we presume he was gone because john boehner walked into his office and said, you're gone, and he said, yes, sir. we don't know whether weiner was asked to leave and we don't know whether he refused. >> nancy pelosi was today asked again about this and she said that is something between him and his constituents. there is a way of getting rid of him in the long term, if the ethics investigation doesn't, and that is that there is re-districting going on in new york because they're losing congressional seats and guess what one they would love to get rid of.
gwen: and chris lee's seat went to a democrat after all was said and done sethey -- so they didn't just get rid of him. >> in bill clinton's own impeach. , he was advised if you want a friend in this town, you better buy a dog. is anyone supporting weiner? >> at this point, he is out there pretty much by himself. he has been making a round of phone calls to his colleagues. he made a -- he had a phone conversation with bill clinton. it is reported that he is profusely apologizing to everyone and his wife, meanwhile, is off on a trip to africa with hillary clinton. but he is very much a man without a country at this point. gwen: the most difficult thing for me in this whole thing is wondering how it is that we keep revisiting different versions of this same story whether it's with eric massa or christopher lee or john ensign or john
edwards, there just seems to be a circuit of really bad behavior among people who hold the public trust. >> and abuse of fame, abuse of power, and, again, abuse of that trust. gwen: maybe we'll figure out by this time next week whether he withstood the spotlight when the house returns to town. meanwhile, the nation's multiple military engagements are increasingly a source of frustration these days at the white house, at nato, on capitol hill and even at the pentagon. outgoing defense secretary robert gates declared in a farewell speech delivered in brussels today, that the u.s. is bearing too much of the burden in too many places. >> future us political leaders, those for whom the cold war was not the formative experience that it was for me, may not consider the return on america's investment at nato worth the cost. gwen: that cost, for american troops and taxpayers, is playing out in libya and iraq and afghanistan.
and polls show americans are losing patience. but is there any end in sight james? >> there's end in sight from secretary gates which is why he went out with guns blazing about nato's burden sharing imbalance but what we've learned, a conversation next month about the pace of troop withdrawals, secretary gates said basically they'll be modest. there was also a general in charge of standing up the afghan forces who is supposed to take the lead throughout the country by 2014. they think they're on a path to do that, but he's also admitting that they're still going to need until 2016, 2017, out into the future, a lot of training, continued support, logistics, intelligence, all the enablers that take a lot longer to build than a combat unit. gwen: so there's the problem he was speaking of today, which is, who's got our back in nato?
and those who are able to don't. and the other question is, whether there's anything realistic about the promise made to the american people that we'll really withdraw down troops. which of these dilemmas takes precedence? >> the afghan war takes precedence but it's at the center of what ails nato. it's the first hot war and we've learned about the alliance. gates is not the first one, but a ritual of primal screams of u.s. officials who come out of trying to manage nato's operations in afghanistan and realize the alliance is less than the sum of its parts. the european allies struggle mightily, there's caveats that keep them out of combat or many of them out of combat which puts the bashed disproportionately on our own forces and there's a sense that, because of this economic problem, europeans are slashing already inadequate defense budgets much more, shifting more of the weight in the future on to us so there's a
lot of frustration from american officials. >> speaking of burden sharing, so if gates is unhappy about the burden sharing with our european allies in nato, what do we know about burden sharing in afghanistan, which, as you said, is a requirement, or supposed to be a requirement for the leaving of u.s. troops, afghani, they're supposed to stand up. what do we know about that. gwen: 40 billion dollars later. >> it's $40 billion and much like the rest of the story in afghanistan, they've only started in the last year and a half with the obama surge. before that, it was a holding action while the bush administration focused on iraq. so, yes, they've put significant resources and people on the problem and increased the size of the afghan forces by hun00,000 police and soldiers in the last year and a half. gives you a rotational base to keep people in combat while some are resting and others are training. you can see, if you look at the template in iraq, it looks like
it did after the surge. we are four years after the surge and this year it looks like we'll get almost all our troops out of iraq. i think you're looking at something similar but with afghanistan, probably a residual force required to give them the enables, logistics, an air force, training up military experts like engineering. if you're going to do this right, if we're going to get out of there with any acceptable outcome, we're looking at seven more years. >> is there anything that can be accomplished with a speech like this? it sounds as though there's nothing driving any change in the burden sharing arrangement. >> no, and it's not going to change. europe, we all know, is in a huge debt crisis, euro zone crisis. they are not going to spend more on defense right now. we're stuck with that. they're not even going to start releasing caveats because that means putting troops in harm's
way in a war that's even more unpopular in europe than it is here and here it's unpopular. i think it was really a primal scream of frustration. he knows it won't change anything dramatically. gwen: does it have an immediate impact in a place like libya where there is broad-based nato action, not boots on the ground per se, not american boots on the ground, but a lot of activity. >> if you look at the speech and our actions in libya, you can see them saying, britain, france, you wanted to take the lead on this -- certainly gates himself was very skeptical of that mission. obama made the decision we would support it but not lead it but they're already asking for more help. gates slammed them for that, saying, it's an 11-week air war and you can't keep your munition stockpiles funded. so the alliance is in a bad place right now. the europeans are mad about afghanistan because they are really there to be by our side. they don't believe it's in their interest to have ground troops
in afghanistan and we're in the libya operation because we said we would support it but we don't see it in our national interests, either, so there's a divergens of perception. gwen: and leon panetta becoming the secretary of defense. >> welcome to this job. he said i walk hand in hand with robert gates. they're cut from the same cloth. i think he will support and be similar to gates, being cautious about pulling too many troops too fast, so you don't threaten the gains you made in the last year bought with a lot of blood and treasure. gwen: thank you, everyone. it was a lot to cover this week. we have to leave you a few minutes early tonight so you can have the opportunity to support your local pbs station which, in turn, supports us. but the conversation continues online, more politics, more policy and we might talk about the sarah palin emails. while you're on the web, let us know what you think, find us on
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